Arts & Culture

Historic Neon Signs from Local Businesses to Join Greenway Art Displays

As part of a new art installation, the Greenway will exhibit eight Massachusetts neon signs used by local businesses during the mid 1900s.

One of eight neon signs to be displayed on the Greenway. Photo courtesy of Dave Waller.

Many of the signs were once well-known landmarks in communities that went through big changes, leading to the abandonment of these neon icons. Now, they will make up the exhibit to be installed near the Rings Fountain between India and State Streets during the first half of May.

The collection is owned by Malden-based collector Dave Waller. Dave and his wife Lynn enjoy rescuing these signs as part of their Visual Effects company, Brickyard. Go out to eat in New England and you may find a sign from their collection decorating the restaurant’s wall. In talking about why he collects these discarded neon signs Dave says, “For a long while they were regarded as an eyesore, but now people really seem to enjoy their warm glow again.”

Keeping with the theme of light-based art, a piece called Transition, made up of wire frames, will shine a meandering tunnel of LED-lights between Oliver and High Streets beginning in mid-June. The work, created by artistic pair Luftwerk, is inspired by the I-93 tunnel system and the Big Dig. It is meant to invite connectivity, as opposed to the highway that once divided the neighborhood.

Third in the series, Somerville artist Anne Lilly‘s Temple of Mnemon will be an interactive lens for visitors to look through just south of India Street. This is part of Lilly’s set of mirror-works that consider self-perception and the feeling of being one part of a whole community.

To compliment these three art displays, the Greenway will host a free panel discussion on July 12 that will be led by architectural historian and GLOW consultant Victoria Solan and focus on light, art, and livable cities.

One Reply to “Historic Neon Signs from Local Businesses to Join Greenway Art Displays

  1. I read elsewhere that the sign from the old European Restaurant will be one of the neon signs installed. Would love to know where it has been kept all these years!

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